British Labour to come home fourth? The votes are being counted and things look grim for Labour in the elections for the European Parliament. The Crikey Election Indicators have both the Liberal Democrats and the new anti-European party UKIP favoured to win more seats than the country’s current governing party!

Crikey Indicator Labour/UKIP: Labour more seats 25%, UKIP more seats 65%; equal number of seats 10%

Crikey Indicator Labor/LibDem: Labour 35%, Lib/Dem 53%, equal 12%

And as for the British general election to come, the market has it as good as over with the Conservatives now a very short priced favourite on Betfair:

If at first you can’t decide, put it off for a bit longer. Wayne Swan did not need the appearance of those funny little television ads urging him not to allow the Chinese to get their hands on part of Rio Tinto to know that he had a political problem. As the Minister charged with making a decision on foreign takeovers he was going to have issues if he said yes or if he said no to the offer from the government owned Chinalco. The charge of selling off the farm is always emotive and his predecessor as Treasurer, Peter Costello, was poised to play on the combination of anti communist and anti Chinese feeling in the community.

Over the last year other members of the Opposition, not just Mr Costello, have been laying the foundation for an attack on the Treasurer’s Prime Ministerial colleague Kevin Rudd as being too pro-Chinese. Approving the Chinalco purchase, even if it came recommended by the Foreign Investment Review Board, would elevate the yellow peril into an election issue. Not that saying no would be any easier. Australia’s prosperity over the last decade has been built on demand from China for the resources of which Rio Tinto is a major producer. Upsetting such a major customer would not be a wise thing to do.

Fortunately for Wayne Swan, the FIRB knows how to take a long time to make an investigation and then a recommendation. As the months passed by, and opponents to the proposal emerged among major shareholders in Rio Tinto, the government could see a way out of its political dilemma. Creating the impression that changes would be needed for the deal to finally pass muster and that negotiating such changes would take time aided the cause of the shareholder opponents to the extent where the proceedings were called off overnight.

Is there such thing as a free car? I doubt very much that motor vehicle dealers are any different to other donors to political parties and individual politicians. Most contributors expect a little pro quo for their quid even if it is nothing more than getting someone in a political office to take their phone call and give a little advice. And there would be very few politicians of any party who do not accept such offerings. It is just the way of the political world and because they all live there the public rarely hears much about it. When the subject of political donations is raised, all parties and all politicians suffer.

Which is what surprised me most about the enthusiasm the Coalition showed in pursuing Joel Fitzgibbon over accepting those free trips to China. Doing so was an invitation to see what little black bugs are found when Labor turns over rocks hiding Liberal and National Party travel arrangements. Perhaps the only reason the Opposition did so was that the Melbourne Age was so relentless in its pursuit of the story that it had no option.

But having got its scalp yesterday was it good politics to try and smear the Prime Minister over being giving the use of an electric car? What we certainly will see when Parliament resumes is Labor seeking pay back. Malcolm Turnbull can expect to her a lot more about his previous activities as a merchant banker.

Press release of the week:

The Minister’s statement followed this headline in yesterday’s Northern Territory News :